Rod Dreher, who has a son who is also autistic, wrote a post called the “Gift of Autism,” and he said he wrote that title with some trepidation.
As someone who is autistic, I can understand that. I know the common thing among those of us who are autistic is to talk about how wonderful being autistic can be and how we are just different and all. I get that and understand it to a point.
That said, autism can also be a pain in the ass.
It’s not easy being around someone who is autistic. It’s not easy for the person, for their loved ones or their co-workers. It can be a chore.
For me, this means that I make a lot more mistakes in my daily life than those that aren’t autistic. And I have to spend a lot more time trying to rectify those mistakes. The worse thing about it? Most of the time I don’t know that I’m pissing people off by not doing something or not asking something. I come off as an uncaring ass even when I don’t mean to be.
But being autistic has made me more aware of the need for grace, the need to learn to love others even as they make mistakes. I’m not always good at being patient, though reminding myself how I can be makes me remember that I need a lot of grace from others and so do those others.
Being a person with autism means you are going to make mistakes. There is no way around that. I can’t pretend I have my crap together because I don’t. It’s all out there. I can’t hide.
As humans, we pretend that we do have it all together. Grace is supposed to remind us that we aren’t all that and a bag of chips. But we find ways of hiding, of telling ourselves how great we are and basically telling ourselves and each other we don’t need God.
And yet, God loves us. God gives us a second chance. Just like so many friends, employers and loved ones give me a second chance. It’s a chance to try again, to know that you are loved for who you are, but also loved with a love that makes you want to get right and be better, not so that you can be loved, but because you are loved.
So, yeah, autism can be a gift- not in the sense that it’s wonderful, but in the sense of letting me know that I am human after all.
And I am still loved by God.